Talking openly about a personal experience of anxiety or depression can help to change negative attitudes and stereotypes.

It can be incredibly cathartic and rewarding – both for the person telling their story and the audience.

Tips for telling your story

  • Be clear about how long you will speak for and how much information you feel comfortable sharing.
  • Tell your story in your own words and speak from the heart.
  • Try not to use medical jargon or acronyms – use language that your colleagues will understand.
  • With your manager, decide on an appropriate time to talk to your colleagues. This might be a staff briefing, lunchtime seminar or social club event.
  • Be prepared for questions when you finish speaking, but also be prepared for no questions. People sometimes take time to process and reflect. It is by no means a reflection on how well you told your story.
  • Colleagues may approach you in the following days and weeks with questions. Prepare yourself to be open and comfortable with this process.
  • Courage is contagious. Your honesty may motivate others to approach you and openly discuss mental health conditions. Be confident to direct people toward more information or support where needed.
  • Remember, it's not your responsibility to provide counselling to colleagues, but it is helpful to encourage them to seek support.

Katrina tells her colleagues

Everyone has their own reason for sharing their story. In this two-part acted scenario, Katrina talks to her manager about her experience of depression. She also decides to tell her colleagues to help raise awareness.  

Katrina's story, part 1

Katrina's story, part 2

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Tell your story in your own words and speak from the heart

Benefits of sharing your story 

Sharing your story can:

  • show that people can continue to work and manage depression/anxiety effectively
  • encourage others to speak openly about their experience with depression/anxiety. You may be surprised by how many of your colleagues have also experienced depression or anxiety at some point in their life, or supported a loved one
  • help others experiencing depression/anxiety to take action
  • encourage your employer to make workplace mental health a priority.

Sharing your experience of depression and/or anxiety can be emotionally challenging, so it’s important to make sure you’re ready. Discuss your decision with someone you trust and talk through your motivations, what you might say and how you’ll deal with different reactions.

Make sure you develop a plan to take care of yourself, including someone to debrief with afterwards.